Health Updates 1 November 2011

  • All sexually active teens should be tested for HIV, says American Academy of Pediatrics: “And in areas of higher rates of infection, all teens over 16 should get the test, the group added in its statement.  More than 1.1 million Americans are infected with HIV, and 55,000 of them are between 13 and 24 years old.  ‘Forty-eight percent of the youth who are infected don’t know they are infected,’ said Dr. Jaime Martinez of the University of Illinois in Chicago, who helped write the new report, published in the journal Pediatrics.  ‘It’s important to realize that those who don’t know they are infected drive the epidemic,” he told Reuters Health.” (Reuters Health)
  • President is tobacco free and fit at 50, doctor finds: “Forget the rumors that he has been sneaking cigarettes; President Obama is ‘tobacco free’, the president’s doctor said in reporting the results of the president’s second physical since he took office.  In a two-page report released by the ‘first doctor’, Dr. Jeffrey C. Kuhlman gives the president a strong bill of health, saying he was a physically active 50-year-old who eats a healthy diet (the president regularly cites the influence of the first lady, Michelle Obama, for that one), stays at a healthy weight and  ‘on occasion drinks alcohol,’ in moderation.  ‘The president is in excellent health and fit for duty….All clinical data indicate he will remain so for the duration of his presidency.'” (Helene Cooper, NY Times)
  • Employers to raise health insurance premiums on smokers and the obese: “Overall, the use of penalties is expected to climb in 2012 to almost 40 percent of large and mid-sized companies, up from 19 percent this year and only 8 percent in 2009, according to an October survey by consulting firms Towers Watson and the National Business Group on Health.  The penalties include higher premiums and deductibles for individuals who failed to participate in health management activities as well as those who engaged in risky health behaviors such as smoking.” (Reuters)
  • Was Steve Jobs a smart guy who made a stupid decision when it came to his health? “It might seem so, from the broad outlines of what he did in 2003 when a CT scan and other tests found a cancerous tumor on his pancreas.  Doctors urged him to have an operation to remove the tumor, but Mr. Jobs put it off and instead tried a vegan diet, juices, herbs, acupuncture and other alternative remedies.  Nine months later, the tumor had grown….Cancer eventually killed him.  But there is no way in this life to know what might have been….And given the type of tumor he had and the way it was found, his decision to wait may not have been  as ill-considered as it seems at first blush.”  Further, the “increasing use of CT scans and the improving clarity of the images mean that more and more tumors too small to cause symptoms are being noticed incidentally in various organs….Deciding what to do about these growths, and whether it is ever safe to just watch them, is something that ‘the field is wrestling with now’.” (Denise Grady, NY Times)

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